Last weekend the exhibition ‘Self Unself’ opened in Suzhou at the Suzhou Arts & Culture Center. On display was a collection of Dutch design works curated by the Design Academy (Eindhoven, the Netherlands). The exhibition was not about the tension between the self & unself, as proposed by director Thomas Widdershoven of the Design Academy, but solely about the self of the designers of the objects on show.
The exhibition Self Unself gave the impression of a self centred ‘Dutch Design’ scene that has lost touch with design as a professional activity, my assumption being that design somehow is related to mass production and providing also practical value to society. It seemed to me that there was a large disconnect between what the makers wanted their objects to convey, and what visitors saw. Continue reading
The start of the academic year announced itself with an influx of students on the XJTLU-campus. I will be teaching ‘History of Industrial Design’ shortly. The challenge is to develop a truly intercultural module. Continue reading
‘PTT’ set in a Univers 55 was the logo that the Dutch State Company for Post and Telecommunications used for over two decades. A tremor of recognition when I encountered this mailbox red lunchbox on the internet.
Initially the PTT-logo in Univers was meant as a temporary replacement for a the real logo proposals. Dutch design agencies Tel Design and Total Design had both been working on a visual identity for the Dutch PTT since 1971. Delays and management changes resulted in a hesitant acceptance of the proposals.
The most important issue was which of the two logo proposals to choose. In the mean time teh PTT already started producing printed matter in the new visual identity typeface, the Univers. When in 1977 the initiative was taken to conclude some of the contractual business between the PTT and the design agencies. It was decided to leave things as they were.
Last year ‘Everything must change’ was released in the Netherlands, a documentary dedicated to designer Piet Zwart (1885-1977). In 2000 he was chosen by the Dutch Design Association (BNO) as the most influential Dutch designer of the 20th century. As to why this is the case, does not become clear from the documentary. Continue reading
I thienk you aaare a lietel lazy, Philippe Starck says to a British design student, priceless! How could I have missed the ‘Design for Life’ series, broadcasted by the BBC in 2009? Watching this I cannot not imagine that Starck designs his accent! Starck: ‘Wee aar notte artiestes, we must be proude to jeust make sjairs’. Continue reading
April 9th I will give a lecture about pictogram history at AKV|St. Joost / Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. It is a part of an afternoon organised by the Research Group Visual Rhetoric of which I am a member, and is dedicated to visual information design. Also dataviz agency CleverFranke and the infographics agency Schwandt Infographics will be giving lectures. Continue reading